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Somalia faces escalating humanitarian crisis, Benghazi holds mass rally in show of support for Libya's revolutionaries, Yemen's Saleh addresses the nation from Saudi Arabia, and more.
Al Jazeera English | May 2
The famine in Somalia then ended last year killed almost 260,000 people, twice as many as previously thought, the UN says. Half of the victims were...
Somalia faces escalating humanitarian crisis [Al Jazeera, Qatar]
Presenter, Male # 1
Reports by humanitarian organizations indicate that Somalia is facing a humanitarian crisis that threatens the lives of thousands of residents as a result of drought and famine. Children are those most affected by the drought that has hit most of the country's southern regions. Our correspondent Fadi Yassen reports on the hardship facing the children of Somalia.
Reporter, Male # 2
Drought is voracious and merciless; it invades large areas of Somalia and the most vulnerable prey is the country's children. A country that has been torn by wars and catastrophes. Reports by humanitarian workers in Somalia indicate that over 50 percent of the children are enduring grave malnutrition. Diseases in addition to hunger constitute a lethal combination that threatens the lives of thousands of people in a country that lacks the most basic medical supplies and where reaching hospitals is a difficult journey for many.
Guest, Male # 3
The malnutrition of sick children that we treat in hospitals has doubled in the past two months. The main reason for the prevalence of malnutrition is famine.
Reporter, Male # 2
A number of Arab and Islamic organizations are trying to help in order to avoid a looming crisis. However, their efforts seem insufficient in light of the country's great needs, especially since an effective role by states and relief organizations is lacking.
Guest, Male # 4 (Abdul Karim Hasin Jolid, head of the African Muslims Committee)
We call on all countries and on all international organizations, especially Arab and Islamic countries, the governments and the people, to assume their responsibility by rescuing this society that might become extinct.
Reporter, Male # 2
The security situation remains the main obstacle facing humanitarian relief work. Today, Somalia is at risk of a looming humanitarian crisis that could take thousands of lives unless the international community and humanitarian organizations interfere as soon as possible. He could become a doctor, or an engineer, or someone that has an impact on others. However, he is in need of someone to rescue him, in need of someone to sponsor him, in need of someone to come to his aid. Will someone answer the call? Fadi Yassen, al-Jazeera, Mogadishu.
Yemen's Saleh addresses the nation from Saudi Arabia [Press TV, Iran]
President Ali Abdullah Saleh
There is a challenge. We will always confront this challenge. And I would like to express my pride with the security institutions and with the Yemeni army. They stood with the constitutional legitimacy of Yemen. These stances are nothing strange and they represent all the Yemeni people. I would like to thank the Yemeni army for all their efforts to absorb this situation. I salute once again the army; I salute the people and I would also like to salute Saudi Arabia and their assistance.
Police continue attack on Bahrain protestors [Press TV, Iran]
Saudi-backed police have attacked several protestors in different areas across the Persian Gulf sheikhdom Bahrain. Saudi-backed Bahraini forces have attacked anti-regime protestors near the heart of the capital Manama. Activists in the area say that the attack has triggered clashes between police and anti-regime protestors. Riot police are said to have fired live rounds at protestors. Eyewitnesses have reported several casualties and a number of people have been detained. Helicopters have been seen hovering over the area firing tear gas on protestors. Elsewhere, police have attacked protestors in the town of Daih. Protestors have also rallied in the villages of and Musalla and Sanabis. There are reports that Sitra village has been sealed off. Bahraini forces have continued the crackdown on pro-democracy protestors despite the lifting of martial law last month.
New Lebanese cabinet wins parliament's vote of confidence [Press TV, Iran]
Lebanon's new government has won the crucial vote of confidence from parliament following a three-day debate. The government of Prime Minister Najib Mikati received 68 out of 128 votes. All lawmakers from the pro-western March 14 camp walked out of parliament shortly before the voting. Mikati addressed the MPs ahead of the vote, promising to preserve stability and security in his country. The prime minister said his government is committed to national unity. His government, in which Hezbollah and its allies have the majority of seats, was formed in June.
US drone attack kills dozens in Somalia [Press TV, Iran]
Dozens of people have been killed in the latest US drone attack in Somalia. Somali defense ministry officials reported the attack, saying US drones targeted towns near the southern port of Kismayo. The US has been using unmanned aircraft to attack targets all over the world. The attacks have killed civilians in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and now Somalia.
Afghans protest against US-led air strikes [Press TV]
Thousands of Afghans have taken to the streets to protest the deaths of 17 civilians in fresh US-led NATO air strikes. Fifteen civilians were killed in an air raid in the eastern Afghan province of Khost, 12 of them women and children. The air strike came a day after a similar attack left two civilians dead in southern Ghazni province. Angry protestors urged the Afghan government to take serious action against the US-led strikes on civilians. The demonstrators threatened to take up arms and fight the Americans if they refused to leave their country.
Saudi Arabia purchases 90 billion dollars of weapons from US [Al-Alam, Iran]
Presenter, Male #1
Saudi Arabia decided to raise its arms purchases from the United States to 90 billion dollars from the 60 billion dollar deal announced last year. Meanwhile, the German defense minister justified Germany delivering heavy weapons to Saudi Arabia by saying that it boosts Saudi Arabia's capabilities of resisting Iran's threats.
Reporter, Male #1
Less than a year after Saudi Arabia received a US arms deal valued at 60 billion dollars, considered the largest deal in US history, Riyadh once again announced its decision to raise its arms purchases to 90 billion dollars in addition to a tank purchase deal with Germany. Political observers consider this deal an encroachment of Berlin's policy of not selling weapons to countries believed to be oppressive. German magazine Der Spiegel said that the German government approved the new tank deal with Saudi Arabia after the Federal Security Council paved way for the deal a few days ago. The magazine added that the federal government approved Riyadh's request to buy German Leopard-2 tanks after Saudi Arabia reassured Germany that it will not become a threat to Israel. The Saudi arms deals, especially the ones with the US, sparked controversy on the reasons and circumstances of these deals at a time when poverty is widely spreading in this country. According to international organizations' reports, the unemployment rate in Saudi Arabia is over 30%. Some people question the motives behind the decision for these deals at this time and the reason why Saudi Arabia is buying weapons from the US specifically. Will these deals help revive the US economy, which has been suffering since the global financial crisis? Political observers assert that the arms exportation to the region comes within the framework of the US policy from which Washington gains a number of benefits. US companies are attemting to take control by creating markets in the region in order to collect billions of dollars on one hand, while heightening and intensifying the conflicts between the region's countries by militarizing them on the other. Analysts say that Saudi Arabia and a number of countries around the Persian Gulf began to arm themselves with arsenals of US weapons. Washington has incessantly tried to portray Iran as a scarecrow to the countries of the Persian Gulf in order to justify the continuation of its presence in the region, which in fact creates a source of danger and instability for the countries. But the more important question is the scale of Saudi Arabia's need for such arsenals of weapons, especially when it is protected by the United States and represents a US stronghold in the region and a strategic ally to Washington. Yet Saudi Arabia spends billions of dollars on weapons without using them against the Israeli occupation, and instead uses them against its neighbors in Bahrain and Yemen to strike at the nationalist powers and repress peaceful protests.
Benghazi holds mass rally in show of support for Libya's revolutionaries [Dubai TV, UAE]
Presenter, Male #1
Libyan revolutionaries took control of the town of al-Gawalish, located about 100 kilometers southwest of the Libyan capital Tripoli, after a battle that lasted nearly six hours. The revolutionaries managed to clear Gaddafi's forces from the town. After taking over Gawalish, it became possible for the revolutionaries to advance northwest because the town is located on the main road to the capital Tripoli. In the northern parts of Libya near the Mediterranean coast, the opposition fighters advanced west from the city of Misurata to several kilometers from downtown Zliten, where a large number of Gaddafi's loyalist forces are massing. The battles in the last several hours also opened doors for the revolutionaries to advance towards Zliten, which is also under the control of Gaddafi forces. Far from the battleground, the Libyan revolutionaries' capital Benghazi embraced what organizers referred to as "a million man march" in support of regions described by the revolutionaries as un-liberated. The participants reaffirmed their demand that Muammar al-Gaddafi and his regime leave. Tens of thousands of supporters of Gaddafi's regime rallied in Tripoli days ago. Hundreds of thousands of people from the cities of Ajdabiya, Toubruk, Darna, and Baida took part in the Benghazi demonstration. These cities were the first ones liberated from the clutches of Gaddafi's regime. In Misurata in western Libya, hundreds of protestors, including women and children, also took to the streets in a demonstration demanding Gaddafi relinquish power, reaffirming their solidarity with the revolutionaries. The protestors sent a message of defiance to the government in Tripoli, raised the flags of the revolution, and carried slogans in a number of languages calling for Gaddaif's departure and the downfall of his regime. Also in Libya, in the second official meeting with the Libyan opposition in less than a month, an official from the Department of North African Affairs in the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Chen Xiaodong, met with leaders of the Libyan Transitional National Council in Benghazi. Xiaodong informed the deputy chairman of the council, Ali al-Esawi, that China considers the council an important partner in the dialogue in a clear indication that Beijing's policy toward the ongoing conflicts in Libya has changed. The members of the Transitional National Council are wanted by the judiciary court in Tripoli. The Libyan regime filed 18 charges against 21 members of the Transitional Council, including the council's chairman, Mustafa Abdul Jalil. The Libyan magistrate announced today that they will be tried at a special court in the upcoming weeks. Their allegations include prejudice against the Fateh Revolution and its leader Muammar al-Gaddafi and incitement to take up weapons.
Syria's Hama vows to resist advancing army [New TV, Lebanon]
Presenter, Male # 1
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has warned the army against entering Hama as al-Watan newspaper confirms that calm has been restored to the city.
Reporter, Female # 1
International news agencies have published images revealing clashes between citizens and soldiers, said to have taken place in Hama. Meanwhile, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, said over 100 families have fled Hama in fear of a military operation, one day after the killing of at least 23 people in the city encircled by the army. In a phone interview with Agence France-Presse, Abdel Rahman indicated that tanks are stationed at all entrances of the city, with the exception of the northern entrance. He said the residents are mobilizing and have decided to defend themselves, even at the cost of death, in order to prevent the entry of the army. He warned that if army tanks enter Hama and eliminate the protests, that all of Syria will be ignited, from the south to the north and from the east to the west. He confirmed that demonstrations took place last night in Idlib, Rif Dimashq's Harasta, Deir el-Zour, in the Qadam and the al-Qaboun neighborhoods of Damascus, in addition to some parts of Hama. In response to the opposition's version of the Hama story, the official Syrian narrative indicated through al-Watan newspaper that calm was restored to the city after security forces removed checkpoints and opened most roads. It added that authorities adopted appeasement measures and a dialogue, demanding that demonstrators open the roads and allow employees to reach their workplaces. In addition, authorities asked protestors not to clash with or provoke security forces and not to drag the town into the military option. The newspaper indicated that some protestors listed a set of conditions for the local authorities, demanded the reinstatement of the former governor and the release of detainees. They also spoke against the deployment of security forces to the street and in favor of daily peaceful demonstrators in al-Assi Square. As online activists are calling for demonstrations on Friday under the slogan of "no dialogue," Syrian Vice-President Farouk al-Sharaa announced in an interview with al-Hayat newspaper that unannounced preliminary meetings were held between the national dialogue body and opposition figures. These figures confirmed that pre-conditions were not set by any party in order to participate in the dialogue that aims to change the atmosphere and develop the political, economic and social foundations of the country. Farouk al-Sharaa was asked about the reasons behind the decision not to invite the Muslim Brotherhood. He responded that "true Islam does not allow the usage of foreigners to seek power. For this reason," he said, "our relationship with Egypt's Brotherhood during the era of former President Hosni Mubarak was good even though it was bad with the Egyptian regime." He indicated that Syria's relationship with Jordan's Brotherhood is built on the shared desire to support the resistance in Palestine, despite the misunderstandings between Hamas and the kingdom. In a related development, the British magazine The Economist revealed that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is losing control due to the Syrian economy and the collapse of the Syrian Pound, the Lira. The magazine pointed out that 20 billion dollars were taken out of Syrian banks and deposited in Lebanese banks. It attributed the information to eyewitnesses and drivers who said they transported a great number of dollars to Lebanese banks. This has raised the ire of Lebanon, which fears that the money belongs to Syrian figures subjected to international sanctions. These same sources indicated that the money belongs to people accused by the International Court, including Maher el-Assad, Assef Shawkat, and Rustom Ghazali.
Israeli police prepare for pro-Palestinian fly-in [IBA, Israel]
As the weekend approaches, the security establishment continues to prepare for the upcoming fly-in by pro-Palestinian activists. Some 600 police and border guards, most of whom will be undercover and unarmed will be deployed across the Ben-Gurion international airport in what has been dubbed "Operation Secured Space." Officials expect hundreds, if not thousands of activists, mostly from Europe, will arrive in the country in the next few days. The first flight from Germany is expected to land later tonight. The supporters reportedly plan to disrupt operations at the terminal and will eventually try to enter Gaza via the border.
Netanyahu looks to Bulgaria for diplomatic support [IBA, Israel]
In other news, in an official visit to Bulgaria today, Prime Minister Netanyahu continues his diplomatic efforts to stymie Palestinian plans for unilateral statehood at the UN in the fall. The prime minister's trip to the eastern European nation is the first by an Israeli head of state in two decades. Netanyahu met with his Bulgarian counterpart and the country's president. A delegation of eight cabinet members held a joint session with the Bulgarian cabinet, a fist in the reason. At the top of the agenda was strengthening ties between the two countries. Netanyahu encouraged Bulgaria to vote down the Palestinian UN bid in September but the Bulgarian prime minister has so far refrained from taking a stance and has not ruled out voting in favor of Palestinian statehood.
Power struggle becomes open in Iran [BBC Arabic, UK]
Presenter, Female #1
It is no longer a secret that the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has entered into open confrontations with Ayetollah Ali Khamenei. Khamenei blocked a decision by the president and expelled a minister from the government. Some of Ahamedinejad's supporters were also detained by loyalists of the republic's Supreme Leader.
Reporter, Female #1
Supreme Leader Ayetollah Ali Khamenei may be the real ruler of Iran, but today he is facing conflicts with the president, who came into power under his own auspices. The public display of disputes between the two men became obvious on more than one occasion. Their split can be traced back to 2005 at Ahamedinejad's inauguration as president for a second term. Khamenei left the hall that same day, but the president stayed to address the public. The Supreme Leader's bodyguards interfered to distance the president from the stage.
Guest, Male #1 (Karim Sajdiur, Mohamed Kartige for World Peace Organization)
I think, Ahmadinejad is someone who lives in a delusional grandeur. He is not a person who can accept playing a secondary role subordinate to the Supreme Leader. He sees himself as a revolutionary leader and the decision maker. There is no doubt that the confrontation between them is heated, and Ahmadinejad is not content with being president.
Reporter, Female #1
Ahmadinejad and Former Chief of Staff Abdu Rahim Mashaei directed broad criticism at Ayetollah's supporters. Several people close to the two men were arrested. Former Iranian President Abdulhassan Banisadr paid a price for confrontations with the Supreme Leader when he was president and now lives in exile in Paris.
Guest, Male #2 (Abdulhassan Banisadr, Iranian President 1980-1981)
Khamenei lost. He created this man who is now destroying him. What's the solution after that? Just as the Arab Spring has shown, there is no alternative for him but to leave.
Reporter, Female #1
But neither of the two men seems to be ready to retreat. Ahamedinejad has crushed the opposition but his battle with his leader may be much harder to fight.
Riots erupt in Egypt after court releases police [Nile TV, Egypt]
Presenter, Female #1
Tension dominated in the Suez province after the families of the revolution's martyrs were angered by the Suez criminal court's decision to release seven officers charged with killing the martyrs on bail. Armed forces intervened to restore order.
Presenter, Male #1
The armed forces cordoned off the Suez Security Directorate to prevent clashes between the security forces and the martyrs' families. The families reaffirmed their rejection of the decision and demanded quick and fair trials of all the figureheads of the former regime.
Reporter, Male #2
Even though the case is being reviewed by the Suez criminal court and is related to the martyrs of the courageous city, the sensitivity of the case led the trial of the police officers accused of killing revolutionaries to be held in Cairo. And from Cairo came the crisis, as the Suez criminal court rejected the attorney general's appeal not to release seven out of the 14 officers charged with killing protestors in Suez, and postponed the sessions until September 14th.
Guest, Male #3 (Hafith Rihwan, lawyer of the Suez officers)
Today, we clearly explained that the appeal submitted by the attorney general violates the law, and we requested the support of the criminal court in order release the defendants. Thank God we succeeded, and the court responded and rejected the attorney general's appeal because it's unlawful. Moreover, the defendants were released and their cases will be tried on September 14, God willing.
Reporter, Male #1
As soon as the court announced its decision to reject the appeal, hundreds of protestors, including several families of martyrs of the revolution, gathered and tried to storm the Suez Security Directorate. The scene resembled the clashes that took place yesterday when they protested the court's decision to release the officers. Eyewitnesses said the protestors threw stones at the directorate's building.
Guest, Male #2
According to Sheikh Shaarawi, a real revolutionary does not continue the revolution because of grudges. We salute our martyrs and salute the white revolution of the youth, but acts of hatred and grudges undermine its popular foundation. We ask the people to be calm and keep in mind the economic aspects. All those who were wronged will get their rights.
Reporter, Male #1
As they wait for their rights, the families of 17 martyrs from the brave city have their eyes fixed on the judicial courts. The families of 846 martyrs across Egypt just like them are waiting to receive their rights as well, demanding retribution for those who killed the martyrs.